Covid Pandemic has Seriously Affected Football in Europe4 min read
While the football teams all over Europe are struggling to survive with massive debts and little income, it seems that also the TV broadcasters are not in a better situation. In addition, the second wave of Covid cases in Europe is creating a lot more doubts and debts than certainties and incomes.
A few days ago, French soccer was shocked by the announcement of Mediapro: the winner of the TV rights competition, which will broadcast the French Ligue1 until 2025, let the deadline of October 5 pass without paying the installment due of Euro 172 million (a total of Euro 780 million must be paid each year). The owner of Mediapro, Jaume Roures, confessed to the French newspaper L’Equipe that it was not an oversight. Mediapro wants to renegotiate the agreed amount.
In the meantime the world, and therefore also soccer, has been overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic. And, contrary to the propaganda that continues to pump, incomes in soccer are in sharp decline. Mediapro was aiming for 3.5 million subscriptions. At the moment, according to some French reports, only 278,000 French subscribers would have subscribed to the Euro25.90 per month.
On October 17, the French League was supposed to distribute to the clubs the sum collected on the 6 October. At most, they will be able to meet to sip a cognac. The situation is tangled up to say the least. For the time being, the French League does not want to get involved in the bargaining table. If it were to do so and accept a downward agreement, it would be impossible to stop the appeal in court of those who were defeated in the competition that awarded the TV rights.
Something similar is happening in the United Kingdom. Before the virus, the British had other habits. There, not every match was broadcast live on TV: going to the stadium was and is considered sacred. But now you can’t. At first, the fans got all Premier League matches to be broadcast live on TV. Now, however, after four days of the Premier League, the clubs have decided that this service can no longer be provided for free. Each match must be paid 15 pounds.
In Italy, they are on the eve of a historical transformation: the farewell of the exclusivity for the assignment of TV rights. A turning point that just three years ago would have provoked the uprising of the exclusive rights holders. And instead nothing has happened.
Almost nobody has noticed that no protest has been raised by Sky Sport. It suits them too. They, too, are very happy with the entry of the funds and the formula that will allow everyone to buy the rights and broadcast the matches. Soccer investment does not pay off. Let’s not forget that the exclusive Champions League TV rights, just a few years ago, brought Mediaset, Berlusconi’s company, to the brink of the abyss.
The show we are witnessing in these days, is the strenuous resistance of those who insist on not wanting to come to terms with reality. So far we have dwelt on the arrogance of the lords of Italian soccer. A simple example is enough: while in the real world people line up for eight hours to undergo a tampon, footballers have protested about the excess of tampons.
In the United Kingdom, Kevin de Bruyne complained that he cannot enjoy his holiday and they may “work” without a pause for 2 years in a row… Just for those who are not well informed, de Bruyne is on a 280,000 pounds a week contract… No, no, a week. It is not a typo!
They fought to do less and even got it. It is unthinkable to assume that this abyss of privileges does not induce a feeling of nausea towards the fans (who are also citizens). Soccer continues to move on the public scene as if there were no pandemic. As if the main concern of people is not this damn virus. Without forgetting that soccer has contributed to the spread of the virus: Atalanta-Valencia and Liverpool-Atletico Madrid are the two most striking examples.
Soccer has no more money. During the week we read the financial statements of Juventus, Roma and Milan. Among companies that, if they were “normally” on the market, would only have to take the books to court. Milan closed the balance sheet with a loss of Euro 195 million. The indebtedness of Roma is Euro 242.5 million. When the Giallorossi company officially announced the figure, the stock on the stock exchange was stopped for excessive decline: minus 27.68%. Juventus closed with a loss of Euro 71.4 million.